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New report exposes true human and economic toll of veteran homelessness

A new research collaboration between Housing All Australians and RPS has revealed the alarming extent of homelessness among Australia’s veteran communities.

06 June 2023 | 3 min read

Released today, Give Me Shelter: Leave No Veteran Behind is the second report in a Housing All Australians series examining the impacts of housing scarcity on society’s most vulnerable groups.

The research was completed pro-bono by a dedicated team of RPS consultants.

RPS National Lead – Social Advisory and Research, Vanessa Pilla, said access to the first-ever census data (2021) about military service allowed RPS to examine veteran homelessness at a level of detail that was never possible before.

“The numbers are shocking. We found that close to 6,000 or 5.3% of Australia’s half a million current and former service personnel experienced homelessness in the past year, a rate nearly three times higher than that of the broader population,” she said.

Despite this, the team found that only 1.1% of veterans access homeless support services, in contrast to 3.4% of the general population. And if left unaddressed, the overall economic cost of veterans’ homelessness could top $4.6 billion in the next 30 years.

Sadly, the research also revealed that suicide rates among women veterans is 107% higher than the general population, and nearly 30% higher for men. And the financial cost of all veteran suicides is estimated to total $140 million annually.

RPS has been collaborating with Housing All Australians (HAA) – a collective of private sector individuals and corporates – since 2022. Its partner organisations are committed to addressing the nation’s housing crisis using their combined corporate expertise, resources, relationships, and ideas.  

Vanessa said the opportunity to work with an organisation that shares RPS’ vision for a fairer, more equitable society is a true privilege.

“Research collaborations like this are so important. It’s only by understanding the true extent of an issue that you can put measures in place to solve it,” she said.

As well as examining the statistics, Give Me Shelter: Leave No Veteran Behind presents case studies of program initiatives that are helping to keep veterans in housing and connected to support services overseas.

“It’s been great to work with Housing All Australians to shine a light on the challenges that our veterans are facing, and inform the conversation about housing and welfare policies, programs, and services that could help reverse this trend,” Vanessa said.

In launching the report, Housing All Australians Founder and Executive Director, Rob Pradolin issued an urgent call to action to governments and the community:

"Homelessness among service personnel is not just a personal tragedy but a collective failure of society. These brave men and women who have served their country with honour and sacrificed so much should never face the harsh realities of experiencing homelessness.

“Our duty as a society is to ensure that veterans are provided with the support and resources they need to reintegrate into civilian life and have a place to call home,” he said.

Explore the full Give Me Shelter: Leave No Veteran Behind report here>>


About RPS

Founded in 1970, RPS, A Tetra Tech Company (RPS) is a leading global professional services firm of 5,000 consultants and service providers. Operating in 125 countries, working across six continents we define, design and manage projects that create shared value to a complex, urbanising and resource-scarce world.

RPS delivers a broad range of services in six sectors: property, energy, transport, water, defence and government services and resources. Services provided across RPS' six sectors cover twelve service clusters: project and program management, design and development, water services, environment, advisory and management consulting, exploration and development, planning and approvals, health, safety and risk, oceans and coastal, laboratories, training and communications, creative and digital services.

RPS stands out for its clients by using its deep expertise to solve problems that matter, making them easy to understand. Making complex easy.

For further information, please visit www.rpsgroup.com.